The Best Thing to Ever Happen to Shakespeare Curriculum

As an English teacher AND theatre director, I've had my fair share of run-ins with the Bard. He and I have come to know each other well, onstage and in the classroom. While I could devour Shakespeare's work over and over again, I know it can be a little stuffy for younger students- especially those who don't care for literature in the first place. 

Over the years I've tried to reinvent my approach to Shakespeare several different times. We've done themed food days, costume contents, and even recently included social media in the character analysis of his plays. 

But a new line of books in publishing might have just changed the game forever.

The Hogarth Shakespeare line is a series of books commissioned from fabulous, contemporary authors to retell Shakespeare's classic tales. Four books are out so far, with hopefully more to come!

I have to tell you, I'm a bit of a book nerd. I love to read basically anything, but when it combines modern authors, plays and Shakespeare, my head could explode with excitement. 

Hag Seed

 
“It has always been a favourite of mine, and working on it will be an invigorating challenge. Is Caliban the first talking monster? Not quite, but close . . .,” she writes.

“It has always been a favourite of mine, and working on it will be an invigorating challenge. Is Caliban the first talking monster? Not quite, but close . . .,” she writes.

 

The latest release from this series is Hag Seed by Margaret Atwood. It's a modern telling of The Tempest, with the main character directing The Tempest with a troupe of actors in a prison. A play within a play! A theatre director! Margaret freaking Atwood!. Are you screaming yet? We sure are. 

While I'm waiting on my copy to get here (it was released October 11, 2016), we think this would make an awesome addition to any Shakespeare study. What teacher isn't looking to liven up their Shakespeare lesson plans?

 

 

Atwood adds to her vast repertoire with this fresh, visceral adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Tempest

 

Want more information this? Listen to the latest episode of Book Riot's All the Books podcast to hear their review of the book. 

We've listed the rest of the Hogarth Shakespeare series below. We'll add to this list as new books are announced!

 

Vinegar Girl

For lovers of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, this modern retelling will ring all your bells. Outside of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Taming of the Shrew is probably my favorite Shakespearean comedy. The leading lady, cleverly named Katie Battista, is modeled after Bianca. Tyler must be switching around the Katherine stereotypes. I'm excited to read this one! 

 

Pulitzer Prize winner and American master Anne Tyler brings us an inspired, witty and irresistible contemporary take on one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies

 

Shylock is My Name

This is a contemporary rendering of The Merchant of Venice, one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies, and now set in England’s South Manchester, featuring rich heiresses, art collectors, footballers, and more. Jacobson’s vision for The Merchant of Venice promises more than just a pound of flesh with the drama, irony, and tragedy that gave the original play its fame.

I've never read any of Jacobson's previous work, but whoever wins the Man Booker Prize has my yes vote. While I'm not too familiar with The Merchant of Venice, I think supplementing a literary or acting study of the play would benefit from Jacobson's tale. 

 

 

Howard Jacobson takes Shakespeare to a contemporary Manchester with sharp writing that lets the reader take a deeper look inside the mind of Shylock

 

The Gap of Time

One of Shakespeare’s final plays, The Winter’s Tale, is the spellbinding story of newfound love, treacherous jealous, revenge, regret, and ultimately, redemption. In The Gap of Time, Jeanette Winterson takes us from 2008 London to a storm-ravaged city in America called New Bohemia in an inspired, witty, and energetic new version of Shakespeare’s classic tale.

Could a cover be any more gorgeous? It gives me the chills just looking at it. 

 

The Winter's Tale is a story full of old emotions- anger, greed, betrayal - but Winterson tells it in a modern, dark, gorgeous way. 

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